Johnson has plans for coliseumBy Kelly Ward | 04/08/2015 10:36pm
Avery Johnson, the new head coach of the Alabama men's basketball team, gestures to the media and fans upon arriving at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport on April 8, 2015. UA Athletics
“The whole idea is that we are about excellence,” Johnson said. “This is about a pursuit of excellence. It’s not about mediocrity. I wouldn’t have signed up for this job if I thought that it was anything but an opportunity to be excellent.”
Community is key in Johnson’s plan.
“The students, alumni and fans, buckle your seatbelt,” Johnson said. “Remember that, buckle your seatbelt, we’re going somewhere. We’re going to recreate the atmosphere in Coleman Coliseum. The fans are going to be more involved than they’ve been in the last 10 years of the University or 15 years of The University of Alabama’s program.”
Coleman Coliseum has not been much of a home-court advantage for Alabama, compared to other environments in college basketball.
“I had an opportunity obviously to tour Coleman. We have a lot of work to do,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do in terms of seating, and there’s a vision I have in mind how I want to get the students involved in the game.”
Whether or not that means students on the sideline instead of in one corner of the arena, Johnson didn’t say.
“We’ll lay it out, but I had a talk with coach Battle yesterday about some ideas generally with what we’re going to do, and hopefully as time goes on, we’ll be a little more transparent about our plans, but you’ll hear about it before we do,” Johnson said.
The changes weren’t specific to Johnson. Battle said when they made the coaching change, he decided they needed to look at all facets of the basketball program. That includes the gameday atmosphere and where students are seated.
He said they are in the process of this, but it’s on-going and will take a while.
“We’re going to discuss everything,” Battle said. “We’re considering everything. We’re blowing everything up and we’re gonna start again and figure out the best way that we can do it.”
Battle said Johnson can help bring in students and fans in and excite them. Johnson, who in a few hours convinced Battle that he belonged in college basketball, came in and won over the room in his first press conference as head coach.
“We need you,” Johnson said, addressing students, alumni and fans. “We are going to perform with passion and perseverance, but we need your support. Former University of Alabama players, you are welcome. We need you to come back on campus. We want to see you at games. You have an open invitation. We want to see you interact with our students. We want you to meet our players. We need your presence here at the University.”